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Law Enforcement Field Training Models: Is It Time for a Change?

NCJ Number
Campus Law Enforcement Journal Volume: 35 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2005 Pages: 23-30
James R. Walker Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2005
8 pages
This article examines the concept of the field training officer (FTO) programs, describes and compares two FTO models, and reexamines the FTO programs due to philosophical changes in policing, such as community policing.
Field training officer (FTO) programs provide a critical link for newly graduated police academy officers. An appropriate link must exist between the police academy and the day-to-day competencies needed by law enforcement officers if they are to be successful, the FTO programs provide this crucial link. The effective FTO takes over where the classroom leaves off. However, even though FTOs have been revolutionary, the significant philosophical changes made in the 1990s, such as community policing and community-oriented policing, have caused problems to emerge with FTOs. This article examines the FTO concept which originated in the early 1970s. Two-field training models, the San Jose Model and the Reno Model are examined which have remained, like the majority, virtually the same since their inception. However, the San Jose’ Model has recently modified its program in the training of new officers. The Reno Model is a relatively new field training alternative developed to function in a community-policing environment. The most notable difference between the San Jose’ and Reno models is the Reno Model has an exclusive focus on instructing police trainees in the use of problem solving techniques. Recent changes in the philosophical foundation of the roles of police in the community have caused many agencies to take a second look into their field training programs. In addition new and improved methods and theories of learning have emerged from the Reno Model.